The flag is a symbol of our national pride - a flamboyant 5 coloured piece of garment with green, yellow, red, black and white respectively, with each colour reflecting a symbolic meaning that the Zimbabwean populace is familiar with.. The flag is a symbol of our national identity which supposedly defines a ‘true Zimbabwean citizen.’
However, people, especially those that are part of the political arena, have for a long time posed different perceptions in the way the flag symbolises national identity. Parties are affiliating the flag to their political endeavours. Zanu PF stalwarts have taken over the flag and have since made it their party property, such that they now cannot stomach seeing other citizens, whom they judge as dissidents of the current regime, associating with the flag on a different platform.
Personally, seeing any person with a flag either in his/her car, office or house, I would conclude that the particular individual could be working in conjunction with the country’s secret service agents or a Zanu PF cadre. However this may not be true, and instead he or she may sincerely be trying to show his/her patriotism and love for the nation unrelated to any political agenda. For far too long, many people have held an ill picture of the flag because of how it has been related to Zanu PF in particular.
Under normal circumstances, things shouldn’t be like that because being a Zimbabwean gives one the liberty to possess our national pride, because the fact still remains, that we are all Zimbabweans who have the same rights and everything else becomes secondary. The flag is supposed to bear testimony to the fact that it is part of the national identity of each and every Zimbabwean citizen regardless of diverse political affiliations.
Recently, Evan Mawarire, a local pastor, has been driving the #thisflag campaign, where he mobilized Zimbabweans to carry the flag as a sign of protesting the misrule of the current regime. His use of the flag to drive his message did not sit well with Zanu PF loyalists as they have embedded the fact the flag belongs to them as a party and was designed for their campaign strategies. One of the discontents, is a man who went on to say futi ngaasiye flag yedu apa’ meaning that he [Mawarire] should not be associated with the ‘Zanu PF’ flag because of his opposing stance and the fact that he is questioning Government. This clearly exudes the notion that Zanu PF has taken over the ownership of this national emblem and has personalised it for the wrong reasons.
Mawarire’s campaign questioned the government concerning the current situation based on what the colours of the flag represent and the reality of the situation on the ground.
The colour green on the flag represents fertile land and vegetation and he questioned why people were hungry. Yellow represents the mineral wealth of the country and so he questioned the government about the scandals surrounding the revenue obtained from the natural resources of the country, with special reference to the US$15 billion dollars allegedly missing from diamond revenues. It is for this question and exposure of malfeasance, through the #thisflag movement that he has become an enemy.
The response by the state is to bring attention to legislation which seeks to incarcerate those who bring the flag into disrepute.
According to Veritas - a local parliamentary and legislation watchdog - existing statutes make it “a criminal offence for anyone to burn, mutilate or otherwise insult the flag (or a reproduction or likeness of it) in circumstances which are calculated or likely to show disrespect for the Flag or bring it into disrepute. The maximum penalty on conviction is a fine not exceeding level 6 ($300) or imprisonment for one year or both.”
“The regulations make it a criminal offence to import or manufacture the flag, or apply the flag, reproduction or likeness of it, use the flag on any matter or thing, for the purposes of sale, without the prior permission of the secretary for Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.”
Yet we are all supposed to have the right to enjoy our national emblem and people should learn to separate politics from national issues.
9 September, 2016